Why A Polarized Nation Can Be A Good Thing

by
posted on November 18, 2016
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Embarrassed pundits and beaten politicians sent up cries for unity as soon as the Hillary Clinton campaign posters began coming down. 

They fretted about an America they described as more polarized than at any other time since the Civil War. They pleaded for unity—at the same time wondering what Donald Trump could possibly do to unify the country since, you know, he is solely responsible for dividing us (as if we all had been unified for the past eight years). 

Funny, but I don’t remember the so-called “mainstream” media calling for unity after either of Barack Obama’s victories. Their current entreaties for unity got me to thinking: Maybe their unity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. 

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The day after the election, the people we heard calling for unity had changed their tune. Moving smartly through the five stages of grief, they left denial at warp speed to screech into anger’s parking spot, tires smoking. 

Here’s what their call for unity looked like on Wednesday morning: 

It looked like elitism when media initially fingered “non-college-educated white males” (i.e., ignorant rednecks, to them) for electing Trump.

It looked immature when protestors refused to accept the will of the people and commentators attacked the electoral college. 

It looked like denial when the Left blamed FBI director James Comey, Russia and “fake news websites” for their own failings. 

It looked racist every time media and politicians casually tossed about words like “bigot,” “hate” and … well, “racist,” whenever discussing Trump supporters.

It looked like spin when, after highlighting Hillary’s gun control proposals during the campaign, media all but ignored gun owners’ historic contribution to her defeat. 

Polarization isn’t the inevitable result of disagreement; it is, however, the ultimate result of disrespect.Later, it looked passive-aggressive when Obama, on a tour to reassure our European allies, not-so-subtly insulted the president-elect by saying, “There are going to be forces that argue for cynicism. For looking the other way with somebody else’s problems. That are not going to champion people who are vulnerable because sometimes that’s politically inconvenient.” 

That’s the sound of Obama, the Great Divider, leading the charge to unity. 

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A sarcastic opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times by David Horsey set the tone for the Left’s anger: 

“I’m sure thousands of bottles of Budweiser will be raised tonight in those white, working-class neighborhoods of the upper Midwest that put Donald Trump over the top of the electoral college.” “What exactly were you thinking?” “I’m mad because your hissy fit is messing with the country that I love.”

It gets worse. He went on to question whether those who oppose big government are industrialists who pollute, ranchers who don’t pay grazing fees or hypocritical farmers who enjoy government price supports. 

It’s ironic that Horsey doesn’t recognize that it’s exactly this sort of language that handed Trump victory. Those on the Left who decry the coarseness of the campaign should be embarrassed that this man has been given paper, ink and a printing press.

If this be unity, give me polarization. 

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Polarization isn’t the inevitable result of disagreement; it is, however, the ultimate result of disrespect (see LA Times opinion above).[NRA members] know that sheep who follow one another blindly over a cliff are no better off because they are united.

Healthy disagreement is necessary to a free state; when present, civil discourse is passionate, but respectful. Disagreement should be celebrated: It’s the only tool available to us to hone and refine policy until we get it right. In fact, the time to be alarmed is when everyone in the room agrees

When both sides agree to disagree, at the very least they feel their voice has been heard. Both parties can even be said to be unified in a love of country. However, when one side labels the other as ignorant, racist, misogynist, homophobic and xenophobic solely because of their vote, well … a little polarization can be expected. In fact, it might even be justified.

Calls for unity are misplaced; it’s tolerance that we’re sorely lacking. 

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Gun owners are well acquainted with intolerance. Liberal elite media, ambitious urban politicians, coddled popular culture icons and megalomaniacal billionaires belittle our beliefs, insult our way of life and blame our rights for the violent criminal acts of the very few who abuse the privileges and good grace of society. 

Gun owners are regularly subjected to a particular perversion of the call to unity—the twisted use of the term “common sense” to describe any call to restrict firearm freedoms, no matter how unreasonable, costly or useless. “Common sense” has become a marketing term, used to sell intellectually weak proposals to a low-information public. “Common sense” implies that all sane people should implicitly understand that gun control is correct because … well, because everyone knows it. Society is unified in its desire to protect our most vulnerable; who would even question such measures?

This is commonly called “groupthink,” where the desire for unity—or conformity—results in dysfunctional decision-making.

NRA members are not persuaded by such deceptive labeling. They know that sheep who follow one another blindly over a cliff are no better off because they are united.

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Unity is certainly a desirable outcome. However, if the cost of unity is conformity—meaning a blind allegiance to the flawed results of groupthink—we gun owners will always reserve the right to respectfully disagree with all our might. That is not polarization. In fact, that is what real unity looks like. Respect paves the way to unity; arrogance only erects a roadblock.

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